‘Girls’ Season 4 Episode 5 Recap: “Sit-In”

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It takes Hannah Horvath’s worst nightmare to make her biggest wish come true. Despite what Adam tells her about his new relationship with Mimi-Rose Howard—she of the woman’s name and a man’s name, with a flower stuck in the middle—”Sit-In” is all about her. In many ways, the cliffhanger the episode picks up on is the narcissist’s dream: something terrible happens that is objectively not Hannah’s fault, or at least not directly, bringing her friends and frenemies to her emotional sickbed one at a time. Unfortunately, the “something terrible” has to come first.

“Sit-In” is not quite as structurally daring as “One Man’s Trash,” the second season bottle episode that took place almost entirely within the confines of Patrick Wilson’s Brooklyn bachelor pad. But when Hannah predictably responds to the trauma of discovering her boyfriend’s new girlfriend by shutting herself into the room she emphatically insists is still hers, the episode becomes a different kind of four-walls experiment. What follows is a sort of shiva for Hannah and Adam’s relationship, with friends and family bringing their emotional baggage, advice, and especially food to speed along the grieving process. And just like a real mourner, Hannah never has to leave the house.

Shoshanna, predictably, is the first to answer the call of duty. Most of her response is predictable, actually; her role in the breakup seems to be running through the standard reactions just to make sure they don’t work, because they never do. Trashing Mimi-Rose doesn’t make Hannah feel better. Tea doesn’t make Hannah feel better. (It’s not “some magical elixir that’s gonna make it so Adam doesn’t have a girlfriend anymore.”) The idea of leaving her apartment, which would mean admitting it’s not really her apartment anymore, certainly doesn’t make Hannah feel better. So she kicks Shoshanna in the boob, kicking her and her aspirationally professional outfit to the curb.

Next is Jessa, who proves what all Jessas are eventually wont to do: she’s just about the worst possible person to have around in a crisis. I’ve been friends with a few Jessas in my time, and the number one rule of said friendships is to never expect out of the friend what the friend doesn’t have it in them to give. There’s no way in hell Jessa would have dropped everything to visit a friend in rehab, the way Hannah did for her last season. The proper thing to do would be to never call Jessa at all—because once Adam does, she inevitably reveals the kind of state-name-forgetting, crucial-information-withholding asshole she is. Jessa does, however, introduce some tough-love logic that Hannah needs to hear at some point: Hannah chose to leave, Adam’s happy, and no one was about to “sit around flicking our clits until she got back!” Hannah slaps her, of course, but at least the Band-Aid’s ripped off.

After the triumphant return of Caroline and Laird, who graciously offer some sexual healing that Hannah could not be more (hilariously) uninterested in, Ray provides the righteous validation Hannah needs. It takes a minute to adjust to Ray of all people being a good source of consolation, but once you do, it’s perfect. Ray sees himself as the most moral, not to mention oldest, of his friend group, and thanks to the incompetence of Community Board 8, he’s got traffic-related anger to spare. So he delivers the harshest judgement of Adam we’ve seen yet—harsh enough to warn Hannah off her own rage by reflecting its simpleminded intensity back at her. “You deserve justice,” he tells her. “You do not deserve this,” he tells her. Those are nice things to hear. They’re also so free of any nuance that they’re obviously untrue, even to Hannah.

Finally, Marnie shows up. And despite going on a “cell phone diet” with her live-in Mumford and son, she’s the one to take everyone else’s advice and wrap it into something that’s actually useful for Hannah. Girls makes it easy to forget that Marnie has known Hannah the best and longest of anyone; she used to live in the bedroom that’s now half of Adam’s “master suite,” and she knows that Hannah uses fake showers to avoid human contact. So she’s the one who finally breaks through to Hannah—along with, bizarrely, Mimi-Rose’s own TED-talk-esque spiel on the distractions of romantic love. Marnie appeals to Hannah’s more rational side by telling her what she already knows: that refusing to let Adam go will make him hate Hannah and Hannah hate herself. But Mimi-Rose appeals to Hannah’s ego, replacing her fantasy of artistic coupledom with another fantasy of self-imposed artistic loneliness.

And after 24 hours, Hannah is finally able to face Adam himself. He not-so-subtly tends to her literal wounds as she apologizes for her behavior, then tells her what she needs to hear. He validates both her and her relationship, admitting that, at one point, he didn’t see himself with anyone else either. He also tells her that he wants to see where his new relationship goes. Adam even offers to move out, but Hannah strikes out for her storage unit in Fort Greene, spending the night among what’s left of the life she thought she was going back to. It looks like Hannah’s on the market for a new apartment, and in New York more than anywhere else, there’s nothing that symbolizes a change in your personal life like a change in real estate.